Thousands of people came from all across Lancashire to visit the Knife Angel National Monument Against Violence and Aggression last month (November).
People gathered to see the Knife Angel’s installation in the grounds of Blackburn Cathedral and the many events held during its stay including a civic reception, peace vigil, music concert, photography competition, and workshops were welcomed by members of the public.
Hundreds of young people from schools, colleges and community groups attended education sessions at Blackburn Cathedral where they visited the Knife Angel sculpture and took part in workshops covering themes including preventing violence, trauma and harm, why knives, and building resilience.
When asked for their feedback after attending a workshop, one young person said:
“We are the next generation and we hold a lot of hope, after what has been happening in the past few years. This is just incredible and addresses the issue in such an informative way.”
Further education sessions were held within schools, reaching even more young people all over the county.
107 knives were surrendered at the feet of the Knife Angel during its time in Lancashire, by people who had wanted to keep themselves and others safe from knife crime as a result of the monument’s visit.
Keen photographers entered at total of 662 photographs to the photography competition which ran alongside the Knife Angel’s visit. The challenge was to take the best picture of the Knife Angel while it was stationed in Lancashire and judges were overwhelmed by the quality as well as the number of entries from both amateur and professional photographers from right across Lancashire including Lytham and Colne.
The Knife Angel has now left Lancashire, but its legacy continues. The Knife Angel website (KnifeAngelLancashire.co.uk) holds tools and resources to support schools, community groups and individuals in exploring, discussing and understanding issues surrounding knife crime.
The Knife Angel’s visit was made possible by a partnership between Lancashire Violence Reduction Network, Blackburn Cathedral, Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. Local community groups, schools, faith organisations and Lancashire residents helped make it a great success by getting involved in the many opportunities it offered.
Det Ch Supt Sue Clarke, Head of Lancashire Violence Reduction Network said:
“We have been overwhelmed by the warm reception the Knife Angel has received from communities from across the county. While we are fortunate that knife crime is lower in Lancashire than other areas, the Knife Angel has still made a powerful impact, providing increased opportunities to work closely with partners to highlight the issue and work together with communities to understand the root causes and prevent it from happening.”
Revd Canon Dr Rowena Pailing, Vice Dean & Canon Missioner at Blackburn Cathedral added:
“The impact of the Knife Angel has been extraordinary, engaging people of all ages and all backgrounds across Lancashire. It has been sobering to hear from those with direct experience of violent crime, but the overriding feeling has been one of hope, and if one life has been saved, it makes everything worthwhile. We continue to work with our local communities in addressing violence, and the Knife Angel has been an inspirational beginning.”
Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, Andrew Snowden commented:
“I am really proud of the success the Knife Angel’s visit to Lancashire has been.
“It has made a huge impact and has proved to be a great way of starting conversations around knife crime, providing education, bringing communities together and working with partners to tackle violent crime here in Lancashire.
“While the Knife Angel has now moved to its next destination I will continue to work with the Constabulary and our partners, to keep these conversations going and to tackle local issues including knife crime head-on.”
Coun Mohammed Khan CBE, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:
“I feel incredibly proud that Blackburn was able to host the Knife Angel for the whole of Lancashire during November. It became a real talking point for anyone passing by and I hope that it helped to trigger some meaningful discussions around the dangers of carrying weapons.
“I’m also proud of the partnership working that made the Knife Angel Lancashire project such a success. My thanks go to everyone involved.”
The Knife Angel is a sculpture made by Alfie Bradley at the British Ironworks Centre out of 100,000 seized and surrendered knives from across the UK. Lancashire was the 14th destination in the Knife Angel’s UK tour, which ultimately aims to save lives by stimulating dialogue, education and reflection about knife crime.